When Personalized Marketing Goes Bad

So, i was hanging out on linkedin just the other day and saw this (almost) funny ad...


And it got me thinking about this crazy digital age we live in and how we are all on the personalization bandwagon. Obviously, a personalized ad is preferable to an unpersonalized one, right? Relevance is the key, as we marketers all know. 

So, enter this Geico ad which appeared in my right column of Linkedin. I actually didn’t even notice it for the first 5 minutes I was on the page. The only thing that made me stop and read it is that as I was about to leave the page, my “marketing guy radar” reminded me it’s my job to analyze ads. So I stopped and read: "A group of kittens is called an intrigue. That’s intriguing.” At this point I felt a giggle welling up inside, which quickly morphed into utter confusion as I read the next line: “Join your sorority sisters in saving even more with a special discount.”. 


My “Sorority Sisters?"

Ummm, what does that have to do with an intrigue of kittens? Curious, I clicked on the ad and arrived at the landing page:

Personalized Ads by Geico

It appears my Beta Gamma Sigma membership is the culprit data point.

So let’s get a couple things straight, Geico:

  • Beta Gamma Sigma is an honor society, not a fraternity
  • Since my Linkedin profile also includes an attribute called GENDER you might find that data field a bit more predictive of my actual gender than FIRST NAME.
  • Thus, as I am a MALE, it is rather unlikely I would “join my sorority sisters” in anything.

The point? Be careful, advertisers, of how you use personalized information.

When composing marketing communications, try to put yourself not only in the loyal customer’s shoes as you read, but also in the skeptic’s, since many consumers are put off by marketing-speak. And use personalization to be more genuine and relevant.  

So, Mrs Geico, while I appreciate our very close intimate friendship, I already have a Bank, and I'm not a fan of frogs.